NFC North: Mike Stock
Continuing our early offseason look at the NFC North ...
Green Bay Packers offseason analysis
- 2008 record: 6-10
- Coaching changes: Fired defensive coordinator Bob Sanders and all but two members of his staff. Hired Dom Capers as new coordinator and Mike Trgovac as defensive line coach. Joe Whitt Jr. likely will serve as defensive backs coach. Special teams coordinator Mike Stock retired. Replaced by assistant Shawn Slocum.
- Salary Cap: $19.09 million before adjustments and credits.
- Key exclusive rights free agent: Cornerback Tramon Williams.
- Restricted free agents: Safety Atari Bigby, safety Jarrett Bush, tight end Tory Humphrey, defensive end Jason Hunter, fullback John Kuhn, receiver Ruvell Martin.
- Unrestricted free agents: Defensive tackle Colin Cole, defensive end Michael Montgomery, offensive lineman Mark Tauscher.
- Free agency comment: The Packers have a lot of decisions to make. Except in cases of injury, Tauscher has been their right tackle since 2000. He is recovering from surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament, a complicating twist. Should the Packers wait on Tauscher or identify a replacement? Bigby, meanwhile, would have been on track for a long-term extension but injuries scuttled his 2008 season. He'll likely receive a one-year tender and have the opportunity to shop his value elsewhere. (The Packers could match any offer he gets.)
- Three biggest needs: (1) Personnel to match Capers' 3-4 scheme, including a run-stopping end and a pass-rushing outside linebacker; (2) Fortification of the offensive line, depending on Tauscher's status; (3) More depth at tailback to either back up or challenge Ryan Grant.
Minnesota special-teams coordinator Paul Ferraro has officially left the Vikings and joined St. Louis, according to Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune. But he's not leaving to be the Rams' special-teams coach.
Ferraro will be the Rams' linebackers coach under new head coach Steve Spagnuolo, a college teammate and longtime friend. The move actually puts Ferraro in a position more commensurate with his expertise. Prior to joining the Vikings in 2006, Ferraro had spent only one season as a special-teams coach at any level. For most of his career, he had been a college-level defensive coach.
The Vikings did some good things on special teams in 2008 but ultimately will be remembered for giving up an NFL-record seven touchdowns. Assistant special-teams coach Brian Murphy is one candidate to take over the group.
Thursday's news extends a tumultuous run of turnover for NFC North coordinators. Nearly half of the 12 men who finished the 2008 season as an offensive, defensive or special-teams coordinator are no longer in the same job. Here's the tally:
- Detroit defensive coordinator Joe Barry
- Green Bay defensive coordinator Bob Sanders
- Minnesota special-teams coordinator Paul Ferraro
- Green Bay special-teams coordinator Mike Stock
- Chicago defensive coordinator Bob Babich*
- Detroit offensive coordinator Jim Colletto+
- Detroit special-teams coordinator Stan Kwan
* Retained his title but will also coach linebackers and won't call defensive signals during games.
+ Reassigned to offensive line coach.
Former Oakland assistant Curtis Fuller will be Slocum's assistant, according to the team. Fuller was a Packers safety in 2003 and 2004.
Slocum was the Packers' assistant special teams coach for three seasons under Mike Stock, who announced his retirement earlier this month. Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy has yet to announce a replacement for fired defensive coordinator Bob Sanders, although the favorite might be St. Louis interim coach Jim Haslett.
UPDATE: The Rams announced Thursday that Haslett will not be retained, making him available to join the Packers or any other team.
Yikes. The National Football Post, a Web site that has multiple connections inside the Green Bay organization, is reporting Monday morning that the Packers have fired every defensive coach with the exception of assistant head coach/linebackers Winston Moss.
The Post reported Sunday that defensive coordinator Bob Sanders was fired, news that has since been confirmed by the Wisconsin State Journal. But Monday's report means that defensive ends coach Carl Hairston, defensive tackles coach Robert Nunn, secondary coach Kurt Schottenheimer, cornerbacks coach Lionel Washington and defensive quality control coach Joe Whitt Jr. are all out as well.
UPDATE (1:48 p.m. ET): Whitt was not among the six coaches the Packers named in a press release confirming the news.
Moss is a well-regarded assistant and has interviewed for the St. Louis Rams' open head coach position.
The Packers announced the retirement of special teams coordinator Mike Stock last week.
If these moves all come to fruition, McCarthy would have effected tremendous staff turnover following a 6-10 season. It also means that the candidates he has in mind as Sanders' replacement -- Mike Nolan and Jim Haslett are among those being mentioned -- are veteran coordinators who would want their own staff of defensive assistants. It's also possible that Moss will get the job but will not have to perform the dirty work of firing former colleagues.
Finally, McCarthy seems poised to enter 2009 with an entirely new set of coordinators in comparison to the group he hired three years ago. His original offensive coordinator, Jeff Jagodzinski, left after the 2006 season to take the head coaching job at Boston College.
The National Football Post is reporting that Green Bay has fired defensive coordinator Bob Sanders, but there has yet to be confirmation from the team over the wild-card playoff weekend.
Sanders' demise has been rumored since the Packers' defense collapsed during a 1-5 finish to the season. The team has already announced the retirement of special teams coordinator Mike Stock, meaning it's possible coach Mike McCarthy will be replacing two of the three most important jobs on his staff this offseason.
We'll keep you updated on this story as the week progresses.
Coaching staff carnage began Friday in Green Bay, but not with the assistant many people were anticipating.
Special teams coordinator Mike Stock, 69, announced his retirement in a press release issued by the team. The job status of defensive coordinator Bob Sanders has been under close scrutiny, but as of late Friday afternoon he remained employed.
Stock's announcement represented either a change of heart or a soft departure after a rocky season for the Packers' special teams. Speaking a week ago, Stock said he wanted to return in 2009 but added: "It all depends about one thing and one thing only -- how long does [coach Mike McCarthy] want me to stay?"
McCarthy might have been looking for a new direction after the Packers not only struggled to find an efficient punter, but also to return kickoffs (tied for last in NFL) and cover kickoffs (No. 20 overall).
There was no immediate word on a possible replacement nor on the status of Shawn Slocum, the Packers' assistant special teams coach.
Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times pens a nice ode to safety Mike Brown, who might have played his last game in a Bears uniform.
Brown aggravated a calf injury in Monday night's 20-17 victory over Green Bay and isn't expected to play Sunday at Houston, Biggs reports. Brown played in 15 games this season, his most since 2003, but he is a pending free agent and might not be re-signed after nine injury-plagued seasons.
Smart and still a good hitter, Brown has endeared loyalty throughout the Bears locker room. Perhaps the most effusive praise came from linebacker Brian Urlacher:
''He's the best football player I have ever played with. He's the smartest guy I have ever been around on and off the field, a great teammate, a leader. He's who I consider our team leader."
Coach Lovie Smith is a big fan as well, and Smith might fight to bring back Brown in some capacity next season. But whether it's this offseason or the next, the Bears are going to have to find a permanent replacement soon for one of their most beloved players.
Continuing around the NFC North:
- David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune pays tribute to Bears defensive back/kick returner Danieal Manning, who said: "I've always believed you need fanatical effort on special teams. I get great blocking and see seams, and I hit it."
- Tom Pelissero of the Green Bay Press-Gazette wonders whether the Packers will bring back special teams coordinator Mike Stock. At 69, Stock said he wants to coach next season but added: "Quite awhile longer? I'm not so sure."
- Packers tailback Ryan Grant hasn't had a breakaway run since going 57 yards in the season-opener against Minnesota, notes Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
- The 15-month-old son of Minnesota quarterback Tarvaris Jackson has been dealing with health issues for much of his life, writes Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. His son, known as T.J., had a pacemaker installed in the spring and was hospitalized briefly near Thanksgiving.
- Minnesota receiver Bernard Berrian had an MRI on his left ankle this week but there was no significant damage, writes Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune.
- Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press looks at the Lions' woeful recent history in the state of Wisconsin.
- Nicholas J. Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press believes it's time for general manager Martin Mayhew to publicly state his football philosophy and where he plans to take the team.